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Surfrider Spearheads Border Sewage Clean-Up in Los Laureles Canyon, Mexico

DATE 02/28/13

Contact: Julia Chunn-Heer
Campaign Coordinator, Surfrider Foundation San Diego County Chapter
Phone: (858) 622-9661

Contact: Dan Murphy
No BS Campaign Coordinator, Surfrider Foundation San Diego County Chapter
Phone: (619) 889-5094

Surfrider Spearheads Border Sewage Clean-Up in Los Laureles Canyon, Mexico

San Diego/Tijuana - In the realm of environmental nonprofits, the volunteers of Surfrider Foundation San Diego County Chapter are masters of walking the walk.

On Saturday, February 23, 2013, participants of Surfrider San Diego’s No Border Sewage Campaign (No BS) collaborated with 4 Walls International and students from Point Loma Nazarene University to develop sustainable community infrastructure in Los Laureles Canyon, Mexico.

4 Walls International is a border-based nonprofit using sustainable building techniques to repurpose post consumer waste products (typically car tires, cans and plastics found in local rivers and valleys) for use in new community housing and gardens. These single-use products are readily available and would otherwise remain as pollutants in the environment or take up space in landfills. The organization heads a Los Laureles work site at Las Hormiguitas Native Plant Nursery, where the local community can learn these construction techniques as well as agricultural production and how to build systems for grey-water, thermoregulation and on-site sewage treatment.

While at the Las Hormiguitas site Surfrider volunteers painted a waterless composting toilet facility, constructed a cement glass bottle wall and created a recycled hydroponic system with a grey water catcher and filtration system.

“It was eye opening to travel upstream from the mouth of the river in Imperial Beach to the severely impacted portion of the river just across the border in the canyons,” says Dan Murphy, coordinator of Surfrider’s No BS campaign. “I think we [in the US] forget that this is a shared watershed between the two countries with shared problems of overpopulation and a lack of proper sewage infrastructure and garbage disposal. Just because a wall separates the two countries does not mean we can’t cross over, raise awareness and work with the local community to carry out Surfrider’s core values.”

“It was great to meet the locals of Los Laureles and see the support from the community. The local people blew me away with kindness, and cooked us an amazing lunch in return for our efforts,” adds No BS campaign volunteer Dan Funk.

Photos of the Los Laureles trip can be seen at the No BS Facebook page “No BS (No Border Sewage) Campaign - Border Sewage Affects Us All:”

This is the second time Surfrider San Diego has participated in a Los Laureles Canyon community project. The nonprofit is actively involved with Mexican NGOs via the Tijuana River Action Network and plans to continue to collaborate with other organizations to bring about sustainable solutions.

Recent accelerated growth in Tijuana has led to a rise in unplanned development, lacking in basic waste and trash management systems. The city’s Los Laureles Canyon is home to nearly 100,000 people living without plumbing, a trash program or the funds and materials to build safe housing. With each rain, waste, sediment and litter is swept into the Tijuana River, and heavier storms often see homes destroyed from land erosion. Pollution in the river

flows across the border into the U.S. and eventually into the ocean.

In order to keep the oceans and beaches of San Diego clean, it is essential to go directly to the source of the problem. Surfrider and 4 Walls International’s work is part of an ongoing effort between U.S. and Mexican organizations to build clean, safe homes while keeping trash out of waterways and the ocean.

For more information on Surfrider San Diego’s No BS campaign visit

or contact campaign coordinator Julia Chunn-Heer at or (858) 622-9661.

No BS Campaign Coordinator, Dan Murphy can be contacted at or (619) 889-5094.

For more on Surfrider Foundation’s San Diego County Chapter, visit

For more on 4 Walls International, visit